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Three specialised innovative studios you should know about

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This month of August we’re highlighting independent Indian design brands and studios that are coming up with novel ideas inspired by the context of this country’s design legacy. And, yet, remain contemporary in form. From creating innovative cooling solutions that lower their environmental impact to pushing boundaries of materials to their limits and structural capabilities, these studios are making the most of technology while remaining rooted in traditional ideas of design, and we are excited to present them to you:

Santosh Prabhu and Santhosh Shyamsundar are not just namesakes, they are friends, have been classmates in college, have interned together, share a common interest in evolutionary biology and theoretical physics, love long motorcycle trips and material focused architecture and design. The last one, mainly, is how their current status as co-founders came to be.

“We work with many materials - old and new - from earth, lime, wood and stone, to metal, concrete, plastic and polymer. We believe that every material has its pros and cons and deserves to be experimented with and used for its own unique characteristics in order to be most efficient,” explains Prabhu. The duo drew their love for material research at Made in Earth, a design studio in Bangalore, where they worked before launching Tyto. As an independent studio now, they collaborate with different designers and architects creating custom wall and floor finishes, exposed brickwork, counter tops, slabs, furniture and objects that are reminiscent of the properties of the materials that they are made in. “Each project is unique and we design mixes, prototypes and we sample for each one, based on the scenario and requirement,” adds Shyamsundar.

Both fans of the late American architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller, Santosh and Santhosh like to base their work on the 

Three stools lined up next to each other with seats made of concrete

Studio Tyto believes that every material has its pros and cons and deserves to be experimented with and used for its own unique characteristics in order to be most efficient.

scientific understanding of the materials under consideration. So, while they may come across as a studio that focuses on sustainability and alternative traditional techniques, they are careful to highlight their forward-looking approach. “We trust and rely on research and engineering acumen, rather than acquired traditional knowledge,” says Shyamsundar. They have recently invested in a 3D printer to print and prototype their explorations in structural design. “We are working on a series of composite, nylon-reinforced carbon-fibre joints for wooden furniture design, which has been exciting,” says Prabhu. Of course, they are just as excited about the residential projects that are underway, looking at them as an opportunity to try and push boundaries of materials to their limits and structural capabilities. “Our work falls in a narrow spectrum of the specialised and artisanal, while also being very local, logical and sustainable. This brings the best of both worlds to us, the visually biased designer and the urban client with a preference for a chic, clean, low maintenance look,” adds Prabhu.

A pathway with railings as part of a house

‘In the Mountains’, Ant Studio's stunning 2-acre residential project located in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand is a brilliant example of what contextual design means.

When it comes to sustainable architecture and nature-inspired design, this studio takes it a step further than most other practices of its kind. Take for instance the project titled ‘Beehive’. By using traditional methods of evaporative cooling, Ant Studio was able to create a unique cooling system that reduces temperature without any negative side-effects to the surrounding environment that comes with the conventional energy-guzzling ACs. Designed with local terracotta cones it is inspired from a structure of densely packed modular cells in a beehive, and the earthy look is just as aesthetically pleasing as it is environmentally responsible. ‘In the Mountains’ their stunning 2-acre residential project located in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand is a brilliant example of what contextual design means. The four-bedroom home is created to not 

stand-out but complement the rugged beauty of the Himalayas. Deriving its form from the contours and slopes of the surrounding mountains, the design of the roof follows the hilly terrain and the structure blends into the surroundings as if it were always a part of it.

“Biomimicry, as a design principle, is harmoniously inculcated in almost all our projects. Our designs create a successful concoction of the earthiness of natural elements and the craft of artisans, implemented by the use of contemporary technology,” explains Monish Siripurapu, founder. A graduate of The School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi he further learned how to fine tune his thought process of combining art, nature and technology into one design endeavour during his Masters of Robotics and Advanced Construction at IAAC, Barcelona.

The passion for preserving as well as learning from the elements of nature is what Monish uses to create innovative designs, and this required him to work towards altering the current perceptions of luxury living. “Exploring any idea that is unconventional requires hard work and perseverance. When we first endeavoured to establish fresh perspectives, there was some convincing required. However, we believed in our idea and made people see how we can lead a life of dignified quality, and yet not cause a negative impact on the surrounding components,” he adds.

At Orvi it is all about creating beautiful surfaces. And if they can highlight traditional crafts through their creations, they have fulfilled their mission. “By combining traditional craft techniques with 21st century technology, we're building an environment where we champion these skills for the next generation of craftsmen and recreate some of the surfaces, shapes, patterns, and designs that have begun to disappear,” founder Sanjeev Agrawal, tells us.

According to Sanjeev the way they work draws upon different eras, regions and styles. “We take the best of what the world's most renowned craftsmen have created before us and combine 

A black and gold surface behind an area where some breads and other food is kept together

Studio Orvi creates beautiful surfaces as seen here at the Hotel Du Collectionneur in Paris.

those skills with the cutting edge technology and finest materials,” he adds. Using metal, stone, wood, and other mediums, they specialise in certain techniques that includes stone carving; stone-in-stone inlay where fine marble and limestone surfaces are embellished with decorative inlays; hand-crafted metal inlay; wood inlay which involves meticulously inlaying solid wood and sheet metal into natural stone; metal coating that is about bonding the metals in liquid form to the surface. They also create tiles in intense colours and patterns using the the Japanese art of Raku firing, while their shattered glass mosaics are an ode to the medieval glass-tile mosaics of Europe's cathedrals. Plus, they will adapt to match the exact requirements of every project. “For us, bespoke services are not an extra, but rather an integral part of our whole approach. The ability to work closely and creatively with external designers and architects, to adapt existing product lines or create completely new models, is fundamental to the way we operate,” Sanjeev adds.

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